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‘What is this?’ Rotting creature resembling a gargoyle washes up on Outer Banks beach

BY MARK PRICE MAY 13, 2021 9:14 AM Something resembling a gargoyle washed up on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, leading to a spirited social media debate,



KENNY HARRIS PHOTO

Something resembling a gargoyle washed up on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, leading to a week-long social media debate over its possible identity. Photos of the “winged” creature surfaced on a popular Hatteras Island Facebook group, after a West Virginia tourist spotted it last week near Rodanthe.

“What is this?” Kenny Harris asked.

Hundreds have reacted to his query, with commenters noting it resembled a legendary “demigorgan” as well as a chupacabra, the mythical vampire dog celebrated in urban legends. Some people also raised the possibility it was the result of marine life breeding in toxic waste.


“It looks like crocodile and a fish made a baby,” one woman said. “I’ve been going to the banks for years and never have I seen this,” another wrote. “Dead skates, jelly fish, man of war, blowfish, turtles and all kinds of birds washed up… Am I being punked?” “This is why I don’t go in the water,” one man added.

Harris told McClatchy News he took photos of the creature to show his family, and decided to post the images on the Hatteras Island Facebook group to get an identification. The private group has 35,000 members and is “dedicated to all things Hatteras Island.” News alerts in your inbox Sign up for email alerts and be the first to know when news breaks.


“I was by myself walking the beach. When I saw it, I was a bit freaked out,” he said. “I was shocked at the reaction (online). Within 10 minutes, I had 50 comments.” The Outer Banks are notorious for hosting oddities that wash out of the Atlantic, including shipwrecks, massive whale carcasses and live World War II era bombs. Harris said he also found a baby shark on the beach during his vacation.

So what was the creature? The consensus is it’s the rotting carcass of an Atlantic angelshark, also known as a sand devil or monkfish. The species is not considered aggressive, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History, but “can inflict severe lacerations when provoked.” Angelsharks average 4 feet in the Atlantic, but have been known to reach 6 feet on occasion, the museum says.

How the fish died, however, will likely remain a mystery. Kenny Harris of West Virginia was vacationing on the Outer Banks when he saw this. He shared photos on Facebook.